Effects of zilpaterol hydrochloride and days on the finishing diet on feedlot performance, carcass characteristics, and tenderness in beef heifers

R. J. Rathmann, B. C. Bernhard, R. S. Swingle, T. E. Lawrence, W. T. Nichols, D. A. Yates, J. P. Hutcheson, M. N. Streeter, J. C. Brooks, M. F. Miller, B. J. Johnson

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50 Scopus citations


British × Continental heifers (n = 3,382; initial BW = 307 kg) were serially slaughtered to determine if increasing days on the finishing diet (DOF) mitigates negative consequences of zilpaterol HCl (ZH) on quality grade and tenderness of beef. A 2 × 3 factorial arrangement of treatments in a completely randomized block design (36 pens; 6 pens/treatment) was used. Zilpaterol HCl (8.33 mg/kg DM) was fed 0 and 20 to 22 d before slaughter plus a 3 to 5 d withdrawal to heifers spending 127, 148, and 167 DOF. Feedlot and carcass performance data were analyzed with pen as the experimental unit. Three hundred sixty carcasses (60 carcasses/treatment) were randomly subsampled, and strip loin steaks were aged for 7, 14, and 21 d for assessment of Warner-Bratzler shear force (WBSF) and slice shear force (SSF) with carcass serving as the experimental unit for analysis. No relevant ZH × DOF interactions were detected (P > 0.05). Feeding ZH during the treatment period increased ADG by 9.5%, G:F by 12.5%, carcass ADG by 33.6%, carcass G:F by 35.9%, carcass ADG:live ADG by 15.6%, HCW by 3.2% (345 vs. 356 kg), dressing percent by 1.5%, and LM area by 6.5% and decreased 12th-rib fat by 5.2% and yield grade (YG) by 0.27 units (P < 0.01). Feeding ZH tended to decrease marbling score (437 vs. 442 units; P = 0.10) and increased WBSF at 7 (4.25 vs. 3.47 kg; P < 0.01), 14 (3.57 vs. 3.05 kg; P < 0.01), and 21 d (3.50 vs. 3.03 kg; P < 0.01). Feeding ZH decreased empty body fat percentage (EBF; 29.7% vs. 30.3%; P < 0.01) and increased 28% EBF adjusted final BW (473.4 vs. 449.8 kg; P < 0.01). Analysis of interactive means indicated that the ZH × 148 DOF group had a similar percentage of USDA Prime, Premium Choice, Low Choice, and YG 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 carcasses (P > 0.10) and decreased percentage of Select (30.4 vs. 36.6%; P = 0.03) and Standard (0.2 vs. 0.9%; P = 0.05) carcasses compared with the control × 127 DOF group. As a result of ZH shifting body composition, extending the DOF of beef heifers is an effective feeding strategy to equalize carcass grade distributions. This can be accomplished along with sustaining the ZH mediated advantages in feedlot and carcass weight gain.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3301-3311
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of animal science
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2012


  • Beef heifers
  • Beta agonist
  • Days on feed
  • Zilpaterol hydrochloride


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